Spacecraft built here have traveled all over the solar system. Back on Earth, people have enjoyed billions of cups of Sleepytime Tea and more than 1 billion pints of Fat Tire Amber Ale. People have cursed the parking gods after finding their car immobilized by a Colorado-made Denver Boot, and thanked everybody and their mother after receiving a Ridgway-made Grammy Award.
"Made in Colorado" really means something. It's a brand that carries value. Simply put, the state is an incredible launch pad for manufacturers in a host of industries.
These 10 products aren't just Colorado icons. They're national icons. They're worldwide--and beyond.
MOOTS CYCLES | PRODUCT:ROUTT GRAVEL BIKES | MADE IN STEAMBOAT SPRINGS | WWW.MOOTS.COM
Kent Eriksen started Moots in the back of a bike shop in 1981. More than 25,000 bicycles later, the company's focus remains squarely on quality.
"Our philosophy is all about building the best bikes we can that ride like no other bikes out there," says Jon Cariveau, marketing director and a Moots employee since the mid-1990s. "[Customers] always say there's something magical about their Moots."
In 1981, that meant steel road bikes, followed by a focus on mountain bikes. The 1990s brought titanium frames as mountain bikes went mainstream. Moots grew, and Eriksen sold the company to later start another manufacturing operation.
In the new millennium. Moots stayed on the leading edge of the market with gravel bikes, offering the best of both worlds.
There's a reason the 23-employee company keeps originality and Invention front and center
"What happens in our Industry is the little guys are the ones who can afford to experiment," says Cariveau. "Where we're really finding our niche is in nice road bikes and gravel bikes."
The latter is exemplified by the Routt series, which debuted in 2014. "We figured out that we could tweak some geometry and the equipment and make a bike that's much better on gravel," says Cariveau.
"It's a cool movement," he adds. "A lot of people use It as the Swiss Army Knife of bikes. A lot of people don't want six bikes in their garage."
One strategy, says Cariveau, is "sourcing the best materials we can." That means U.S.-made titanium tubing. "That is by far the best titanium you can get. It also comes with a hefty price tag, but we don't have any problems with quality."
Moots' bikes are priced accordingly starting at $6,000. "The philosophy with Moots is not cutting any corners," says Cariveau. "We could cut half the price and use Chinese tubing."
Why Steamboat Springs? "It's not a cheap place to manufacture, but it's part of our history, and Colorado as an overarching brand has a lot of recognition," says Cariveau. "It's a big part of our DNA."
And there's a natural R&D lab just beyond the factory floor, he adds. "We're five minutes away from world-class single-track, and two pedal strokes away from world-class dirt roads and paved roads."
ENSTROM CANDIES | PRODUCT: ALMOND TOFFEE | MADE IN: GRAND JUNCTION | WWW.ENSTROM.COM
In the 1950s, Chester "Chet" Enstrom was in the ice cream business, when an ingredient salesman "introduced him to a toffee Inclusion, or a butter brickle inclusion," says Doug Simons, Enstrom's third-generation president. "Chet came to realize it was a real nice confection and started playing with it."
It began as a hobby, but he made Colorado candy history when he added almonds and launched Enstrom Candies in 1960. "He developed this recipe for what is Enstrom's Almond Toffee today" says Simons. "He was pretty innovative."
After Chet went to serve in the Colorado State Senate in 1966, his son, Emil, took over with his wife, Mary (the couple are Simons' in-laws). The third generation of the family, Simons and his wife, Jamee, joined in 1979 and bought the company in 1993. Their sons, Doug Jr. and Jim, represent the fourth generation.
Tens of millions of pounds of almond toffee later. Chet's inventive spirit continues to guide Enstrom Candies today His recipe remains intact as the toffee continues as the core product. "If anything, it's gotten a little better, because of our focus on high-quality ingredients and processes," says Simons. "Our annual production can be 3 million pounds a year"
A big jump came in 2008, after the company invested in a new continuous cooking system. The company continues to make toffee the old-fashioned way, but the investment allowed for production of a half-ton of toffee an hour that's "fully enrobed" in chocolate. That protection gives it an eight-month shelf life and allowed Enstrom to enter "the national candy aisle," says Simons.
The move paid off: Wholesale advances propelled the company to some "exorbitant growth" as its traditional mail-order model plateaued in the age of the internet. The company now employs about 100 (a number that spikes to more than 200 for the winter holidays) and owns five retail locations in Colorado.
NEW BELGIUM BREWING CO. | PRODUCT:FAT TIRE AMBER ALE | MADE IN:FORT COLLINS | WWW.NEWBELGIUM.COM
Jeff Lebesch's mountain-bike trip provided inspiration for one of the most iconic craft beers in 1988.
New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan, Lebesch's co-founder and then-wife, says the trip guided his initial homebrewing recipes as well as the name. Fat Tire. "After that trip, he came home and started brewing beer to emulate some of the great beers he tried in Belgium," she says.
The first official batch was bottled in 1991. Lebesch and Jordan expected their Abbey Belgian Style Dubbel would be the most popular variety, but Fat Tire quickly emerged as the flagship. "The beer itself was approachable but still unique," says Jordan. "In those days, [craft beer] was all really new to people."
While the flavor was a draw, branding was also key, she adds. "The name. Fat...